Heritable DNA Methylation in CD4+ Cells among Complex Families Displays Genetic and Non-Genetic Effects.
ABSTRACT: DNA methylation at CpG sites is both heritable and influenced by environment, but the relative contributions of each to DNA methylation levels are unclear. We conducted a heritability analysis of CpG methylation in human CD4+ cells across 975 individuals from 163 families in the Genetics of Lipid-lowering Drugs and Diet Network (GOLDN). Based on a broad-sense heritability (H2) value threshold of 0.4, we identified 20,575 highly heritable CpGs among the 174,445 most variable autosomal CpGs (SD > 0.02). Tests for associations of heritable CpGs with genotype at 2,145,360 SNPs using 717 of 975 individuals showed that ~74% were cis-meQTLs (< 1 Mb away from the CpG), 6% of CpGs exhibited trans-meQTL associations (>1 Mb away from the CpG or located on a different chromosome), and 20% of CpGs showed no strong significant associations with genotype (based on a p-value threshold of 1e-7). Genes proximal to the genotype independent heritable CpGs were enriched for functional terms related to regulation of T cell activation. These CpGs were also among those that distinguished T cells from other blood cell lineages. Compared to genes proximal to meQTL-associated heritable CpGs, genotype independent heritable CpGs were moderately enriched in the same genomic regions that escape erasure during primordial germ cell development and could carry potential for generational transmission.
Project description:Identifying methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs) and integrating them with disease-associated variants from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) may illuminate functional mechanisms underlying genetic variant-disease associations. Here, we perform GWAS of >415 thousand CpG methylation sites in whole blood from 4170 individuals and map 4.7 million cis- and 630 thousand trans-meQTL variants targeting >120 thousand CpGs. Independent replication is performed in 1347 participants from two studies. By linking cis-meQTL variants with GWAS results for cardiovascular disease (CVD) traits, we identify 92 putatively causal CpGs for CVD traits by Mendelian randomization analysis. Further integrating gene expression data reveals evidence of cis CpG-transcript pairs causally linked to CVD. In addition, we identify 22 trans-meQTL hotspots each targeting more than 30 CpGs and find that trans-meQTL hotspots appear to act in cis on expression of nearby transcriptional regulatory genes. Our findings provide a powerful meQTL resource and shed light on DNA methylation involvement in human diseases.
Project description:DNA methylation may contribute to the etiology of complex genetic disorders through its impact on genome integrity and gene expression; it is modulated by DNA-sequence variants, named methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs). Most meQTLs influence methylation of a few CpG dinucleotides within short genomic regions (<3 kb). Here, we identified a layered genetic control of DNA methylation at numerous CpGs across a long 300 kb genomic region. This control involved a single long-range meQTL and multiple local meQTLs. The long-range meQTL explained up to 75% of variance in methylation of CpGs located over extended areas of the 300 kb region. The meQTL was identified in four samples (P = 2.8 × 10(-17), 3.1 × 10(-31), 4.0 × 10(-71) and 5.2 × 10(-199)), comprising a total of 2796 individuals. The long-range meQTL was strongly associated not only with DNA methylation but also with mRNA expression of several genes within the 300 kb region (P = 7.1 × 10(-18)-1.0 × 10(-123)). The associations of the meQTL with gene expression became attenuated when adjusted for DNA methylation (causal inference test: P = 2.4 × 10(-13)-7.1 × 10(-20)), indicating coordinated regulation of DNA methylation and gene expression. Further, the long-range meQTL was found to be in linkage disequilibrium with the most replicated locus of multiple sclerosis, a disease affecting primarily the brain white matter. In middle-aged adults free of the disease, we observed that the risk allele was associated with subtle structural properties of the brain white matter found in multiple sclerosis (P = 0.02). In summary, we identified a long-range meQTL that controls methylation and expression of several genes and may be involved in increasing brain vulnerability to multiple sclerosis.
Project description:Several reports have suggested a role for epigenetic mechanisms in ASD etiology. Epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may shed light on particular biological mechanisms. However, studies of ASD cases versus controls have been limited by post-mortem timing and severely small sample sizes. Reports from in-life sampling of blood or saliva have also been very limited in sample size and/or genomic coverage. We present the largest case-control EWAS for ASD to date, combining data from population-based case-control and case-sibling pair studies.DNA from 968 blood samples from children in the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED 1) was used to generate epigenome-wide array DNA methylation (DNAm) data at 485,512 CpG sites for 453 cases and 515 controls, using the Illumina 450K Beadchip. The Simons Simplex Collection (SSC) provided 450K array DNAm data on an additional 343 cases and their unaffected siblings. We performed EWAS meta-analysis across results from the two data sets, with adjustment for sex and surrogate variables that reflect major sources of biological variation and technical confounding such as cell type, batch, and ancestry. We compared top EWAS results to those from a previous brain-based analysis. We also tested for enrichment of ASD EWAS CpGs for being targets of meQTL associations using available SNP genotype data in the SEED sample.In this meta-analysis of blood-based DNA from 796 cases and 858 controls, no single CpG met a Bonferroni discovery threshold of p?<?1.12?×?10-?7. Seven CpGs showed differences at p?<?1?×?10-?5 and 48 at 1?×?10-?4. Of the top 7, 5 showed brain-based ASD associations as well, often with larger effect sizes, and the top 48 overall showed modest concordance (r?=?0.31) in direction of effect with cerebellum samples. Finally, we observed suggestive evidence for enrichment of CpG sites controlled by SNPs (meQTL targets) among the EWAS CpG hits, which was consistent across EWAS and meQTL discovery p value thresholds.No single CpG site showed a large enough DNAm difference between cases and controls to achieve epigenome-wide significance in this sample size. However, our results suggest the potential to observe disease associations from blood-based samples. Among the seven sites achieving suggestive statistical significance, we observed consistent, and stronger, effects at the same sites among brain samples. Discovery-oriented EWAS for ASD using blood samples will likely need even larger samples and unified genetic data to further understand DNAm differences in ASD.
Project description:In vertebrates, methylation of cytosine at CpG sequences is implicated in stable and heritable patterns of gene expression. The classical model for inheritance, in which individual CpG sites are independent, provides no explanation for the observed non-random patterns of methylation. We first investigate the exact topology of CpG clustering in the human genome associated to CpG islands. Then, by pooling genomic CpG clusters on the basis of short distances between CpGs within and long distances outside clusters, we show a strong dependence of methylation on the number and density of CpG organization. CpG clusters with fewer, or less densely spaced, CpGs are predominantly hyper-methylated, while larger clusters are predominantly hypo-methylated. Intermediate clusters, however, are either hyper- or hypo-methylated but are rarely found in intermediate methylation states. We develop a model for spatially-dependent collaboration between CpGs, where methylated CpGs recruit methylation enzymes that can act on CpGs over an extended local region, while unmethylated CpGs recruit demethylation enzymes that act more strongly on nearby CpGs. This model can reproduce the effects of CpG clustering on methylation and produces stable and heritable alternative methylation states of CpG clusters, thus providing a coherent model for methylation inheritance and methylation patterning.
Project description:Emerging evidence emphasizes the strong impact of regulatory genomic elements in neurodevelopmental processes and the complex pathways of brain disorders. The present genome-wide quantitative trait loci analyses explore the cis-regulatory effects of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on DNA methylation (meQTL) and gene expression (eQTL) in 110 human hippocampal biopsies. We identify cis-meQTLs at 14,118 CpG methylation sites and cis-eQTLs for 302 3'-mRNA transcripts of 288 genes. Hippocampal cis-meQTL-CpGs are enriched in flanking regions of active promoters, CpG island shores, binding sites of the transcription factor CTCF and brain eQTLs. Cis-acting SNPs of hippocampal meQTLs and eQTLs significantly overlap schizophrenia-associated SNPs. Correlations of CpG methylation and RNA expression are found for 34 genes. Our comprehensive maps of cis-acting hippocampal meQTLs and eQTLs provide a link between disease-associated SNPs and the regulatory genome that will improve the functional interpretation of non-coding genetic variants in the molecular genetic dissection of brain disorders.
Project description:Oxidative stress has been related to type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading global cause of death. Contributions of environmental factors such as oxidative stress on complex traits and disease may be partly mediated through changes in epigenetic marks (e.g. DNA methylation). Studies relating differential methylation with intermediate phenotypes and disease endpoints may be useful in identifying additional candidate genes and mechanisms involved in disease.To investigate the role of epigenetic variation in oxidative stress marker levels and subsequent development of CVD and T2D, we performed analyses of genome-wide DNA methylation in blood, ten markers of oxidative stress (total glutathione [TGSH], reduced glutathione [GSH], oxidised glutathione [GSSG], GSSG to GSH ratio, homocysteine [HCY], oxidised low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), antibodies against oxLDL [OLAB], conjugated dienes [CD], baseline conjugated dienes [BCD]-LDL and total antioxidant capacity [TAOC]) and incident disease in up to 966 age-matched individuals.In total, we found 66 cytosine-guanine (CpG) sites associated with one or more oxidative stress markers (false discovery rate [FDR] <0.05). These sites were enriched in regulatory regions of the genome. Genes annotated to CpG sites showed enrichment in annotation clusters relating to phospho-metabolism and proteins with pleckstrin domains. We investigated the contribution of oxidative stress-associated CpGs to development of cardiometabolic disease. Methylation variation at CpGs in the 3'-UTR of HIST1H4D (cg08170869; histone cluster 1, H4d) and in the body of DVL1 (cg03465880; dishevelled-1) were associated with incident T2D events during 10 years of follow-up (all permutation p-values <0.01), indicating a role of epigenetic regulation in oxidative stress processes leading to development or progression of diabetes. Methylation QTL (meQTL) analysis showed significant associations with genetic sequence variants in cis at 28 (42%) of oxidative stress phenotype-associated sites (FDR?<?0.05). Integrating cis-meQTLs with genotype-phenotype associations indicated that genetic effects on oxidative stress phenotype at one locus (cg07547695; BCL2L11) may be mediated through DNA methylation.In conclusion, we report novel associations of DNA methylation with oxidative stress, some of which also show evidence of a relation with T2D incidence.
Project description:Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation (DNAm) are essential for regulation of gene expression. DNAm is dynamic, influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. Epigenetic drift is the divergence of the epigenome as a function of age due to stochastic changes in methylation. Here we show that epigenetic drift may be constrained at many CpGs across the human genome by DNA sequence variation and by lifetime environmental exposures. We estimate repeatability of DNAm at 234,811 autosomal CpGs in whole blood using longitudinal data (2-3 repeated measurements) on 478 older people from two Scottish birth cohorts--the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936. Median age was 79 yr and 70 yr, and the follow-up period was ?10 yr and ?6 yr, respectively. We compare this to methylation heritability estimated in the Brisbane Systems Genomics Study, a cross-sectional study of 117 families (offspring median age 13 yr; parent median age 46 yr). CpG repeatability in older people was highly correlated (0.68) with heritability estimated in younger people. Highly heritable sites had strong underlying cis-genetic effects. Thirty-seven and 1687 autosomal CpGs were associated with smoking and sex, respectively. Both sets were strongly enriched for high repeatability. Sex-associated CpGs were also strongly enriched for high heritability. Our results show that a large number of CpGs across the genome, as a result of environmental and/or genetic constraints, have stable DNAm variation over the human lifetime. Moreover, at a number of CpGs, most variation in the population is due to genetic factors, despite some sites being highly modifiable by the environment.
Project description:Genetic influence on DNA methylation is potentially an important mechanism affecting individual differences in humans. We use next-generation sequencing to assay blood DNA methylation at approximately 4.5 million loci, each comprising 2.9 CpGs on average, in 697 normal subjects. Methylation measures at each locus are tested for association with approximately 4.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to exhaustively screen for methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs).Using stringent false discovery rate control, 15 % of methylation sites show genetic influence. Most meQTLs are local, where the associated SNP and methylation site are in close genomic proximity. Distant meQTLs and those spanning different chromosomes are less common. Most local meQTLs encompass common SNPs that alter CpG sites (CpG-SNPs). Local meQTLs encompassing CpG-SNPs are enriched in regions of inactive chromatin in blood cells. In contrast, local meQTLs lacking CpG-SNPs are enriched in regions of active chromatin and transcription factor binding sites. Of 393 local meQTLs that overlap disease-associated regions from genome-wide studies, a high percentage encompass common CpG-SNPs. These meQTLs overlap active enhancers, differentiating them from CpG-SNP meQTLs in inactive chromatin.Genetic influence on the human blood methylome is common, involves several heterogeneous processes and is predominantly dependent on local sequence context at the meQTL site. Most meQTLs involve CpG-SNPs, while sequence-dependent effects on chromatin binding are also important in regions of active chromatin. An abundance of local meQTLs resulting from methylation of CpG-SNPs in inactive chromatin suggests that many meQTLs lack functional consequence. Integrating meQTL and Roadmap Epigenomics data could assist fine-mapping efforts.
Project description:Asthma heritability has only been partially explained by genetic variants and is known to be sensitive to environmental factors, implicating epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation in its pathogenesis.Using data collected in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), we assessed associations of asthma and wheeze with DNA methylation at 7.5 and 16.5 years, at over 450,000 CpG sites in DNA from the peripheral blood of approx. 1000 participants. We used Mendelian randomization (MR), a method of causal inference that uses genetic variants as instrumental variables, to infer the direction of association between DNA methylation and asthma.We identified 302 CpGs associated with current asthma status (FDR-adjusted P value <?0.05) and 445 with current wheeze status at 7.5 years, with substantial overlap between the two. Genes annotated to the 302 associated CpGs were enriched for pathways related to movement of cellular/subcellular components, locomotion, interleukin-4 production and eosinophil migration. All associations attenuated when adjusted for eosinophil and neutrophil cell count estimates. At 16.5 years, two sites were associated with current asthma after adjustment for cell counts. The CpGs mapped to the AP2A2 and IL5RA genes, with a -?2.32 [95% CI -?1.47, -?3.18] and -?2.49 [95% CI -?1.56, -?3.43] difference in percentage methylation in asthma cases respectively. Two-sample bi-directional MR indicated a causal effect of asthma on DNA methylation at several CpG sites at 7.5 years. However, associations did not persist after adjustment for multiple testing. There was no evidence of a causal effect of asthma on DNA methylation at either of the two CpG sites at 16.5 years.The majority of observed associations are driven by higher eosinophil cell counts in asthma cases, acting as an intermediate phenotype, with important implications for future studies of DNA methylation in atopic diseases.
Project description:Background:The study of DNA methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs) helps dissect regulatory mechanisms underlying genetic associations of human diseases. In this study, we conducted the first genome-wide examination of genetic drivers of methylation variation in response to a triglyceride-lowering treatment with fenofibrate (response-meQTL) by using an efficient analytic approach. Methods:Subjects (n?=?429) from the GAW20 real data set with genotype and both pre- (visit 2) and post- (visit 4) fenofibrate treatment methylation measurements were included. Following the quality control steps of removing certain cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) probes, the post-/premethylation changes (post/pre) were log transformed and the association was performed on 208,449 CpG sites. An additive linear mixed-effects model was used to test the association between each CpG probe and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) around ±1 Mb region, with age, sex, smoke, batch effect, and principal components included as covariates. Bonferroni correction was applied to define the significance threshold (p?<?5.6?×?10-?10, given a total of 89,217,303 tests). Finally, we integrated our response-meQTL (re-meQTL) findings with the published genome-wide association study (GWAS) catalog of human diseases/traits. Results:We identified 1087 SNPs as cis re-meQTLs associated with 610 CpG probes/sites located in 351 unique gene loci. Among these 1087 cis re-meQTL SNPs, 229 were unique and 6 were co-localized at 8 unique disease/trait loci reported in the GWAS catalog (enrichment p?=?1.51?×?10-?23). Specifically, a lipid SNP, rs10903129, located in intron regions of gene TMEM57, was a re-meQTL (p?=?3.12?×?10-?36) associated with the CpG probe cg09222892, which is in the upstream region of the gene RHCE, indicating a new target gene for rs10903129. In addition, we found that SNP rs12710728 has a suggestive association with cg17097782 (p?=?1.77?×?10-?4), and that this SNP is in high linkage disequilibrium (LD) (R2?>?0.8) with rs7443270, which was previously reported to be associated with fenofibrate response (p?=?5.00?×?10-?6). Conclusions:By using a novel analytic approach, we efficiently identified thousands of cis re-meQTLs that provide a unique resource for further characterizing functional roles and gene targets of the SNPs that are most responsive to fenofibrate treatment. Our efficient analytic approach can be extended to large response quantitative trait locus studies with large sample sizes and multiple time points data.